LONDON — Fashion Trust Arabia has canceled its March 25 awards gala in Qatar due to fears about the spread of the coronavirus, while British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has set out a battle plan in the likelihood that the virus will spread across the country.
Just one week ago, FTA had named the 25 finalists for its second annual awards. The designers were chosen by FTA’s advisory board, while a group of judges including Olivier Rousteing, Pierpaolo Piccioli, Elie Saab, Christian Louboutin, Marc Jacobs, Michèle Lamy and Carine Roitfeld were to have made the final decision later this month.
Is is understood the FTA is concerned about the coronavirus and the resulting impact on international travel and work. The decision to postpone the event also came from a Qatari government directive to postpone all planned international gatherings.
Undeterred, Fashion Trust Arabia co-chairs, Sheikha Al-Mayassa and Tania Fares, plan to stage an “intimate showcase” in Paris featuring the 25 finalists whose designs will be reviewed by the 2020 judges, FTA advisory board members and select media. The showcase will take place at a later date and an announcement confirming the rescheduled dates will follow in the weeks to come.
Earlier on Tuesday, Johnson laid out his plan for the U.K. should coronavirus spread. The number of U.K. cases has reached 51, up from 39 earlier this week, and Johnson said it is highly likely to rise.
Johnson said up to 20 percent of the workforce could be off sick at the same time during the peak of any coronavirus epidemic in the U.K. Police would be called on to maintain public order if the virus spreads, while the military could help support emergency services teams, if needed.
The U.K. government also believes the virus could come in multiple waves through May and June, and that most people would have a mild form of the illness. A minority would require hospital care, and a fraction of those people would die, in particular the elderly and those with underlying conditions.
The British government is also working on mitigating the impact of the virus if and when it entrenches itself in the country — schools could be closed, large-scale gatherings canceled and people asked to work from home. The government said it is also working on supporting research to improve diagnostics and treatment of the virus.